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Tanzania Association of Tour Operators Predicts Number of Tourists in Tanzania to Double by 2012

IBM (NYSE: IBM) -- The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) today announced results of a new market data study(1) predicting that the number of inbound international tourists traveling to Tanzania will double by 2012.

Tourism is the number one industry in Tanzania and the country is quickly emerging as a top tourist destination for travelers around the world with a wide range of outdoor, cultural and wildlife activities. TATO, the country's leading organization for the development and coordination across the tourism industry, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month.

TATO plays a key role in the development and growth of the tourism industry in Tanzania by providing its nearly 250 members with the latest information, advice, and tools needed to capitalize on the influx of tourists visiting the country. As the number of tourists visiting Tanzania increases, TATO will work closely with its members to use technology to improve the quality of service -- from online booking systems to the actual travel arrangements and accommodations.

"Tanzania's natural tourism product is, in many ways, unparalleled in Africa. However, the tourist experience is not measured alone on the beach or wildlife product," said Mustapha Akunnay, Executive Secretary, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators. "It is the whole continuum that starts when the tourist first arrives in the country until the moment they leave. TATO is working across this tourist value chain to improve the experience for each and every tourist entering the country."

While key travel destinations in Tanzania include the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar, there are numerous national parks and a largely undeveloped coastline, providing additional tourist sites across the country. There are extensive, but largely unvisited areas set aside as national parks, game reserves and conservation areas. Many of the local people, villages and tribes rely heavily on tourists traveling through their regions. So by helping tour companies across Tanzania grow their businesses, TATO is also making a significant impact on the economy at a country and local level.

IBM Helps TATO Improve IT and Communications

IBM's Corporate Service Corps is working with TATO to improve the organization's use of new technologies and communications strategies to work more efficiently and effectively with its members. As part of this work, the IBM team is currently working with TATO to re-launch its website and establish stronger relationships with its members and tourists.

IBM's Corporate Service Corps is a new program designed to give employees an opportunity to work in emerging markets alongside colleagues from around the world. By bringing together employees from different geographies, cultures and areas of expertise, IBM is encouraging the development of new skills as more markets play a role in the global economy.

The IBM team in Tanzania consists of nine employees from countries around the world including Costa Rica, Eritrea, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the United States, and New Zealand. Each team member has a different area of expertise including IT consulting, human resources, financial management, sales, communications, and public relations.

In addition to working with TATO, IBM's Corporate Service Corps team in Tanzania is partnering with The African Wildlife Foundation and KickStart.

About the study

In order to analyze the issues faced by the tourism industry in Tanzania, interviews were held with 20 Tanzanian tour operators and 45 foreign tour operators. To better understand consumers who have travelled to Tanzania, a team surveyed tourists at Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro airports, and on overland busses leaving Arusha for Nairobi. A web-based survey was also used to gather information from consumers interested in long distance travel, but not necessarily travelling to Tanzania.

In order to gain a more in depth understanding of these travellers in terms of how they select a destination and plan their trips, as well as specific issues relating to travel in Africa and Tanzania, focus groups with consumers in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and United States (U.S.) were undertaken.

According to the study, the top five source markets include the U.K., the U.S., Italy, South Africa and Germany. These markets account for over three quarters of all arrivals from the study markets, for 71 percent of wildlife safari visitors and 82 percent of beach holiday takers. Around ten percent of all visitors have been to Tanzania before and only a minority of the populations of the main tourist source countries has either traveled to Tanzania or has a clear image of the country as a tourist destination.

While TATO looks to help existing members increase tourism from these countries, the organization will also help tour companies grow business in new markets as well.

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